The charm of ‘Laughter in the Dark’, a scabrous and sensual novel written by Vladimir Nabokov, comes to the stage thanks to Danish performance collective Hotel Pro Forma in a performance that combines theatre, installation, visual art, and choreography. In his sixth novel, Nabokov deals for the first time with the theme that will make ‘Lolita’ famous. In ‘Laughter in the Dark’, Nabokov tells the story of Albinus, an art critic who falls in love with a young actress, Margot, and abandons his wife and daughter to move in with her. Margot returns his attentions out of self interest. From this fictional starting point, the Russian writer constructs a spiral of sensuality and intrigue that ends in tragedy. Nabokov’s novel is used by Hotel Pro Forma as a launching pad to develop a working team. The theatrical adaptation of the novel is by Morgens Rukov, one of the founding members of Dogme 95 Manifesto and screenwriter of such films as ‘Festen’ by Thomas Vinterberg and ‘The Idiots’ by Lars von Trier. Director Kirsten Dehlholm together with Adalstein Stefansson create an alienating scenography/installation that changes according to the three acts of the story, which is narrated from different points of view and staged through cinematographic techniques and choreographies designed by Mette Ingvartsen. In Hotel Pro Forma’s multisensory theatre, the music composed and performed live by Mils Frahm plays a central role; piano and organ are used in order to suggest a gothic atmosphere, and the audience is provided with headphones to hear the sound of these instruments during the first part of the show.
Directed by Kirsten Dehlholm Script Mogens Rukov
Choreography Mette Ingvartsen Light design Jesper Kongshaug Music Nils Frahm
Suond design Kristian Hverring Set Kirsten Dehlholm, Adalsteinn Stefansson Costumes Henrik Vibskov
With Klaus Tange (Albinus), Clara Fasting Prebensen (Margot), Johannes Lilleøre (Rex)
Photo © Claudi Thyrrestrup
Produced bya Hotel Pro Forma, Republique Coproduced by Republique, Sirenos Festival, Teart, Hotel Pro Forma
Distributed by Quaternaire (Paris) Supported by Bikubenfonden, Toyotafonden, Oticonfonden, Beckettfonden, Goethe Institute Partner MAC Cosmetics, Teater & Lysteknik Hotel Pro Forma is supported by the Danish Arts Council’s Committee for the Performing Arts
Laughter in the Dark
The Mind Deceives.
By artistic director Kirsten Dehlholm, Hotel Pro Forma
Using Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Laughter in the Dark as it’s starting point, the performance is a classic tale of desire, lust, misfortune and deception. The man Albinus leaves his wife and child for a young lover, Margot. The man’s new friend, Rex, is her ex-boyfriend. A love triangle has begun. Albinus loses his sight in a car crash and is subjected to betrayal and deception until the fatal shot is heard.
The choice of a simple well-written tale with a classic plot lets us develop the visual and audio means and turn them into active co-players.
The performance is divided into three acts.
- Dark.We begin far into the story. Albinus is blinded. Voices and sounds move all the way into the audience’s bodies via binaural microphones and headphones. Into our inner space.
- Light and shadow.The space is seen as an inevitable machine in constant movement. It pushes the characters in certain directions where they can disappear and appear again in new situations. The story is told here from start to finish. The choreography makes use of the space’s elements and balances between the machine’s movements, the characters’ personalities and the tale’s sequence of events. The costumes and shoes are at the same time recognizable and necessarily alienating. The characters become a part of the space.
- Music.The tale is over, but the music continues. It shakes off the story and takes us into a pounding rhythmic chamber of tones, hammer strokes, volume, chords and melodic beauty. The music ruptures the fated tale and opens up to new spaces.
All speaks to the mind and the senses.
Romaeuropa presents ‘Laughter in the Dark’ by Hotel Pro Forma within the Theatron European Network. The performance is going to be followed and enhanced with labs, workshops, dedicated communication and promotion campaigns in order to involve new audiences -especially young ones- in an unusual way.